“What is the desire for death the desire for?”
In this another masterpiece of Kureishi, Mamoon Azam, the eminent Indian-born writer with a fading reputation, taps the services of a young writer, Harry Johnson, to write his much-awaited biography. Young, good-looking, ambitious, and coming from a rich family, Johnson has to go beyond the memories of this manipulative man and a questionable genius. He needs to know the real man behind the writer who is admired in the literary world.
There are books that I would fall in love with, instantly, on the very first page. Others take time. Hanif Kureishi’s “The Last Word” belongs to the latter. Like his character Mamoon Azam, this book could be best appreciated when you delved into it deeply on its pages.
The part I like the most were the conversations between Mamoon and Harry. I was reminded by the Dumbledore-Potter scenes in J.K. Rowling’s novel. Here, Mamoon not only shares some lessons and wisdom but also in these conversations, we got to know more the real him. Harry, meanwhile, is not a pushover. His aggressive character makes it more exciting to read. Readers will find Harry’s escapades to be thrilling, even if only to mirror the actions of Mamoon himself when he was young. “Any person has to work with their desire…Anything good has to be a little pornographic, if not perverse.”
Mamoon’s story and the characters who revolve around his past and present life are riveting to read, but at times, the scenes involving the minor characters are a little bit dragging. But it all goes back to Mamoon: his remarkable journey in life, his adamant quest to find an ethical standard that all could follow, and his conflicting point of view.
Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars). Could it be that in the “The Last Word,” Hanif Kureishi writes himself as Mamoon to tell his own story? Or is it Harry? I believe that that this is one of the important books of our time, showing the writer in every one of us, trying to write our own story. “The best stories are the open ones, those you don’t quite understand.”